Will Emerging Church be more tolerant?

The Rev. Howard Bess writing at AlterNet suggests that the church of the future may be more science and gay friendly:

In the last half of the 20th century, Evangelicalism swept the American religious scene. This period of American religious history will go down as the age of Billy Graham. He may have been light on theological prowess, but he was a spell-binding preacher and an organizational genius. His call to Christ was supported by the establishment of new colleges, new seminaries, parochial schools, home schooling, new publishing companies, new magazines, radio and television networks, and new ministries such as Campus Crusade, World Vision, Youth for Christ, and Pioneer Boys and Girls.

Evangelicalism changed the face of America. Predictably the change is not permanent and the next phase is setting in. Church historians and sociologists are now talking about post-Evangelicalism. The most popular buzz term is the emerging church. Change is constant and the American religious scene is not static.
Scot McKnight, Professor of Religious Studies at North Park University, has been studying the phenomenon that is pervasive, but as yet little noticed by the general public. He calls the change ironic. This new breed of Christian is a product of Evangelicalism and appears to be carrying on the Evangelical tradition; but serious scholars are asking "Is this a subsection of Evangelicalism or is it something quite different?"

The developing ironic faith takes the believer to a fork in the road. Will the believer abandon the Christian faith altogether or will the believer redefine the meaning of being a Christian?

Dr. McKnight identifies eight characteristics of the emerging church. In condensed form I am sharing his observations:

First, emergents cannot accept the idea of Bible inerrancy.

Second, emergents have come to believe that the gospel that they have been taught is a caricature of the message of Jesus, rather than the real thing.

Third, exposure to science in public education, universities and personal studies has led emergents to disown the conclusion that when the Bible and science appear to collide, science must take a back seat to the Bible.

Fourth, emergents have become disillusioned by the clay feet of church leadership.

Fifth, our public schools and our nation in general are insisting that we be truly multicultural. The churches' teaching, that people not like us, are doomed, is not acceptable to emergents.

Sixth, emergents are insisting that God be understood as totally gracious and loving.

Seventh, acceptance of homosexuals in the family of God is common.

Eighth, echoing the first named characteristic, emergents recognize the role that language plays in their understanding and practice of the Christian Faith. Theology is language bound.

Read the article and the full 8 themes here.

Comments (1)

First, thanks to a friend for directing me to this article.

Now - FINALLY! Someone has actually put in very succinct and clear terms what 'we' are talking about when we say 'emergent church.' One word of caution - even though many would categorize this movement as coming from Evangelical home turf, in many ways that iteration of it seeks to grasp much of what Anglicanism has been offering for a long time. And that was much of the focus of Brian McLaren's address to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington at their Jan. '09 convention. In my mind what this boils down to is a new form of LiberalEvangelicalism where we are afraid to claim neither the culture of this world nor the name and message of Jesus.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space